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The best things to do in England

For the best things to do in England we really don’t have to travel far. Adventure and fun can be found right on our doorstep, and I bet you’ll even find that some of the top things to do are in your local area, without having to travel for miles. 

Althought we can’t travel at the moment due to Covid-19, we can start planning our next adventure  and making our England bucket list! England has so many beautiful places to visit, walks and hikes to go on and National Parks to explore. Some of the best things to do in England include exploring London, surfing in Devon, going for afternoon tea, or embarking on a UK road trip, and there are even unique things to do in England such as cheese-rolling, garlic festivals, and kayaking on the Thames! 

In this blog post I’m going to share some of the best things to do in England. From my  personal favourite things to do in England through to the best places to visit in England, I want to inspire you to add to your UK bucket list and enjoy some adventure at home! 

35 best things to do in England...

1. Go coasteering in Cornwall.

Cornwall is one of the best places to visit in England, as there are so many things to do in Cornwall. You can…

And so much more! Check out my complete bucket list of things to do in Cornwall here. 

However, one of my absolute favourite things to do in Cornwall is to get the adrenaline going and go coasteering! I did this with the Global Travellers family on Fistral Beach and we had so much fun. Bring your swimsuit and a towel, grab a wetsuit and a helmet and jump in!

A 3-day itinerary for Cornwall: Treyarnon Bay, Padstow and Newquay

2. Go punting in Oxford or Cambridge.

There’s nothing like a lazy day in summer: going out for a stroll with a coffee, picnics with friends, and punting along a river. Punting is one of the best things to do in England and the concept is simple: square-ended, flat-bottomed boats are pulled through shallow water with a 16-foot pole. You can choose to go on a punting tour, or to give it a go yourself! 

Two of the most famous places in England to go punting are the River Cherwell in Oxford and the River Cam in Cambridge, where students take tourists along the river to see the cities’ sights, including many of the famous university colleges. 

The River Cam can get pretty busy in summer, but head a couple of miles south to the village of Grantchester for a more peaceful experience, where you can punt on the river alongside weeping willows, meadows and woodlands, to the sweet sound of bird song. 

For a more adventurous punt in the Oxford area, head to Folly Bridge where you can punt on the River Thames (at the sides where it is shallow). Another beautiful place for punting in Oxford is on the River Isis next to Port Meadow, where you can soak up the stunning scenery and stop off in a country pub for lunch.

For more unique things to do in England, check out this blog post. 

3. Take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

One of the top things to do in England is to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge: climb all three of Yorkshire’s highest peaks in under 12 hours! The circular route is 25 miles long, and you ascend 1,585m as you climb the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, all nestled within Yorkshire Dales National Park.

To find out more about what the challenge involves and my experience of it, check out my guide to the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge here. 

Other blog posts you might like…

4. Stargaze in a Dark Sky Reserve.

There’s something spectacular about staring up at the sky when it is completely dark and looking at all the twinkling stars. This can be hard to do in city centres where there is a lot of light pollution, but England is home to six international dark sky reserves.

  • Exmoor National Park
  • Northumberland National Park
  • Moore’s Reserve, South Downs National Park
  • North York Moors National Park
  • Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • Cranborne Chase AONB (Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Somerset)

Check out this blog post to find out more about England’s 10 National Parks and plan your visit.

5. Indulge in some typical English food.

England isn’t particularly famous for having exquisite cuisine, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t local delicacies to try. From fish and chips at the seaside, to Cornish pasties (in Cornwall of course!), country pub grub with an English cider, roast dinners, the full English breakfast and more! Enjoy a cup of English breakfast tea as you decide how to spread your scone (cream first, like they do in Devon, or jam first, like they do in Cornwall). 

6. Visit the Roman Baths in Bath.

Bath is one of the prettiest cities and one of the best places to visit in England. Take a deep dive into England’s history and visit the Roman Baths, built in 75AD, Though you can’t use the baths anymore, you can still marvel at the architecture, feel the heat of the thermal water, visit the sacred spring and learn loads about how the Romans used to live. After you’ve seen history at its finest, pop over to Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal waters, to take a dip and kick back and relax as past meets present. 

7. Climb England's highest peak, Scafell Pike.

The Lake District is one of England’s 10 National Parks and one of the best things to do in England is to hike Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England. At 978m tall, it’s a great hike to get your calves burning as you take in some of the most beautiful scenery in all of England.

Check out my complete guide to hiking Scafell Pike in this blog post. 

The Lake District is one of the best places to go hiking in the UK, with hundreds of miles of trails for you to explore, and you can also go wild camping there! If you’re thinking of heading to the Lake District National Park, check out these posts:

8. Spend a typical day at the seaside in Blackpool.

Blackpool is a fairly famous English seaside resort that is perfect for budget friendly adventures! It’s a fairly “marmite” place (you either love it or you hate it), but head to this Lancashire coastal town to enjoy a day full of fun: eating fish and chips on the beach, making sandcastles with your bucket and spade, walking along the promenade, as well as the main attractions at Blackpool Tower (such as the Eye, the Dungeon and the Ballroom). 

Check out my top tips for travelling on a budget here. 

9. Cycle along the Jurassic Coast and look for fossils.

The Jurassic Coast (England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best places to visit in England) extends along the south coast of England, from Exmouth in Devon through to Swanage in Dorset. Along this 95-mile stretch of coastline you’ll experience a variety of landscapes, incredible geology and beautiful towns and villages. The rocks in this area offer an almost complete record of the Mesozoic Era, so when you visit you can start to understand how the environment changed across millions of years, learn about Earth’s history and see how coastlines are created. 

The Jurassic Coast is a great place for cycling, because Route 2 of the National Cycle Network connects many of the towns and villages between Studland in Dorset and Exmouth in Devon. As you cycle along the coastal path, you can stop on the beach for a picnic, visit museums to learn more about the history of the Jurassic Coast, visit little villages for afternoon tea and even enjoy a summer’s day in Bournemouth

Posts you might like for planning your Jurassic Coast adventure: 

10. Go for a night on the 'toon' in Newcastle.

Newcastle is packed with history and culture, but many people head here for the nightlife alone. As the sun sets and shops close, Newcastle gets a second lease of life. From dinner and a show at the theatre to cocktails at a trendy bar followed by dancing the night away in the club, nightlife in Newcastle has something to offer everyone. Expect fun, laughter and plenty of conversation with the locals; Geordies are some of the friendliest people in England!

Another great city in England for nightlife is Leeds! Check out the 35 best things to do in Leeds here.

11. Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

The changing of the guard takes place outside Buckingham Palace (and Windsor Castle). With a full military band playing a selection of music, get an insight into this English military tradition as you watch the soldiers in their bearskin hats and red tunics march in front of the palace. Soldiers have guarded the palace since 1660, and the ceremony marks the moment that the Old Guard (the soldiers currently on duty) exchange places with the New Guard. The ceremony happens every day at 11:00 in June and July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from August to May. 

Other posts you might be interested in for planning your trip to London…

12. Canoe along the Wye Valley.

The Wye Valley AONB stretches across the England-Wales border, home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain. The River Wye is the fifth longest river in the UK, and one of the best things to do in England is to rent canoes and explore the area from the water! The River Wye is famous for its unpolluted water, and you’ll often see kingfishers, salmon and more amazing wildlife when you’re there. 

If you like hiking, the view across the River Wye from Symonds Yat rock is said to be one of the best in England! See more of the best walks and hikes to do in the UK here. 

Heading to the Welsh part of the Wye Valley? Check out some of the best things to do in Wales here. 

13. Take a day trip to Windsor.

In addition to the world-famous Windsor Castle (which you can take tours of), Windsor is perfect for a day trip full of sunshine and fun. Whether you want to enjoy a picnic on the river bank, take a cruise along the Thames, meander in and out of the independent shops and boutiques, or explore Eton across the river, there’s plenty to see and do in this royal town.

Check out my guide to a day trip from London to Windsor here. 

A day trip from London to Windsor Castle

14. Visit an English vineyard.

Now, when I think of wine I automatically think of France, Italy, Spain, or Portugal in Europe, or further afield New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, the USA… basically anywhere but England! But England is home to some vineyards and one of the best things to do in England is to head to one and try the local wine. Chapel Down in Kent and Denbies Wine Estate in the Surrey Hills produce award winning sparking wine, so make sure you give it a try! 

If you’re heading to Denbies Wine Estate and want to make a day of it, check out these best places to visit in Surrey.

15. Go shopping in The Lanes in Brighton.

Brighton is a great place for a weekend away on the south coast. As well as spending time on the beach and hitting the arcades on the pier, you can check out the independent shops and boutiques and you meander in and out of the Lanes. 

Check out my weekend guide to Brighton here. 

16. Rent a cottage for the weekend in The Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds AONB is the largest in England and Wales, covering parts of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset. The area is home to picturesque villages, quaint towns, miles upon miles of hiking trails, an abundance of country pubs to eat in, and plenty of cute cottages to stay in. Rent a cottage and snuggle up with your nearest and dearest as you enjoy one of the most beautiful places to visit in England.

Check out unique Airbnbs in the UK in this blog post. 

17. Say hello to the wild ponies in Dartmoor or the New Forest.

When you visit Dartmoor or the New Forest, there are thousands of locals you can’t help but notice… the wild ponies. 

While the ponies in the are wild in that they roam across the forest and the moor freely, they are owned by the New Forest or Dartmoor Commoners, who are responsible for keeping the herd healthy and safe. The ponies grazing on the landscape is a beautiful, tranquil sight, and one of the things that keeps the area looking as pretty as it does. 

Please remember to respect the animals and watch them from a distance. They may appear docile, but they are wild. 

The best things to see and do in Devon, England

18. Learn about England's naval history at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Go on a journey through time as you step on-board historic world-famous ships and submarines and learn about England’s naval history and some of the navy’s best-kept secrets. The Dockyard is also very close to Gunwharf Quays (perfect for shopping, and climbing the Spinnaker Tower to look at the views across the Solent) and Southsea, where you can soak up the sun at the beach or take the Hovercraft to the Isle of Wight.

19. Go walking in the countryside.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know it’s no secret that I absolutely love being outdoors, keeping active, and being close to nature. And what better way to do that than with a good hike! Come rain or shine (and we all know the rain is more likely) England is a beautiful place to go walking and hiking. Between England and Wales there are currently over 2,500 miles of National Trails to explore. I personally cannot wait for the (still in progress) England coastal trail, which will cover all of England’s coastline! 

If you want to go hiking or walking in England, check out these blog posts…

The best walks and hikes to go on in England

20. Soak up English history and culture on a trip to York.

York is one of the best places to visit in England for history and culture, and I can’t wait to get there and explore the area in more detail. I loved my time in the Yorkshire Dales and in Leeds, and so I can’t wait to also give York the time it deserves. Here you can wander in and out of the medieval streets such as The Shambles, visit York Minster (the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe) and admire the views from the top of the cathedral across the city, admire the contemporary art displayed throughout the city, and enjoy afternoon tea at Betty’s (it’s famously good). 

21. Dance the weekend away at a festival.

I love a good dance around to some absolute tunes with my girlfriends, and something England does well for this is festivals! As well as the big famous festivals with huge headline acts, such as Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, and the Isle of Wight festival, many smaller towns have local festivals where local artists play. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you’re having just as much fun for a fraction of the price: win win! 

Check out my festival packing list here. 

Catching the ferry from London to France and Les Eurockéennes festival

22. Visit the biggest cathedral in England in Liverpool.

Liverpool is famous for it’s connection to The Beatles, but it’s also home to England’s largest cathedral. After you’ve finished exploring the city from the perspective of some of the world’s best musicians, head to the Cathedral to marvel at the architecture inside and out. Overlooked by the cathedral is St. James’ Spring, the city’s only natural spring and said to be good at promoting appetite and digestion! 

23. Go rock climbing in the Peak District.

The Peak District is another of England’s beautiful National Parks and the perfect place for climbers and adrenaline junkies! Rock climbing here is generally free climbing on limestone or gritstone, and popular edges for climbing include Stanage or Froggatt, but there are over 10,000 climbing routes to choose from!

Check out my weekend guide to the Peak District in this blog post. 

28 places you should visit in England, Peak District

24. Marvel at Hadrian's Wall.

Many people think Hadrian’s Wall is in Scotland. It’s on the England-Scotland border, but the wall and the 84-mile long National Trail along it are actually in England. Get a taste of Roman Britain as you walk along your chosen part of the trail and admire the architecture of the wall and the views of the surrounding area. 

25. Go wild camping in the Lake District or Dartmoor.

Although it’s tolerated throughout England with permission of the land owner and respect for the area you stay in, wild camping is only technically legal in parts of Dartmoor National Park and the Lake District National Park. Pitch your tent and spend a weekend surrounded by nature, as you hike by day and watch the stars by night. 

Check out my camping packing list in this blog post. 

A guide to exploring Dartmoor National Park, Devon

26. Watch a game of football at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Football is famously popular across England, particularly so in Manchester. If you can get tickets (they sell out fairly fast) enjoy the crowds and the energy as you watch a game at Old Trafford. If you’re really into football, visit the stadium (which is the second biggest in England) on a non-match day for a behind the scenes tour. 

27. Hit the surf in Devon.

I absolutely loved exploring Devon during summer. The south west corner of England (Devon and Cornwall) is home to some of the UK’s best surf breaks, making it the perfect place to get to know my new surf board! The water might be chillier in England than abroad but you can warm up with a nice cup of tea and a scone when you get out the water. 

Check out the best things to do in Devon in this blog post. 

28. Indulge in an afternoon tea.

Britain is famous for enjoying a cup of tea, and so why not treat yourself to afternoon tea at a cafe or a fancier establishment. It’s a great way to spend some time with family or friends, and try a variety of little sandwiches, cakes and other desserts as you sip on your tea and/or bubbly! Depending on where you go, you might even be able to find a uniquely themed afternoon tea!

Check out the best places in London to have afternoon tea in this post. 

A 3-day microgap adventure in Leeds, UK

29. Do a cheese tour of England.

England is famous for producing some pretty good cheese (brie-lliant if you ask me) and one of the best things to do in England is to visit some (or all!) of the towns where it is produced. Place you should include on your cheese tour include… 

  • Cheddar, Somerset
  • Wensleydale, Yorkshire
  • Stilton, Cambridgeshire (where the cheese originates from, but it is now made in Leiceistershire, Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire)
  • Dymock, Gloucestershire (the home of Stinking Bishop, Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese)
  • Dorset (Dorset Blue)
  • Leiceistershire (Red Leicester)
  • Malpas, Cheshire (Cheshire cheese)
  • Gloucestershire (Double Gloucester)
  • Truro, Cornwall (Cornish Yarg)

30. Visit Holkham beach nature reserve in Norfolk.

I had the pleasure of visiting Norfolk with my friend Steph and we had the most relaxing Norfolk spa weekend, including visiting Holkham Beach. Holkham Beach is one of the most unspoiled stretches of sand in all of England. It’s been voted ‘best beach in England’ and there’s even a stunning shallow lagoon behind the shoreline at high tide. Holkham National Nature reserve is one of the largest nature reserves in England, and home to an abundance of flora and fauna for you to be amazed by. It’s up to you if you collect shells on the four miles of sand or pine cones in the nearby forest. 

Check out my complete guide to exploring Norfolk here. 

A weekend at Norfolk Woods Resort and Spa, England

31. Discover the mysteries of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is full of mystery so if you’re a curious traveller, visiting this archaeological site is perfect for you. Dating as far as 3,000 BC, allow yourself to be transported into the world of mystery, secrecy, myths and legends as you find out about the giants, battles and healing powers connected to these stones. 

32. Watch a show in London's West End.

One of the best things to do in England is to go to the theatre! London is the thetrea capital of the world, with more people going there to watch talented actors in plays and musicals in the West End than anywhere else in the world. Whether you want to marvel at the architecture in a huge, old theatre or head to a smaller, 30-seat independent theatre, London’s theatre scene has something for everyone. 

Other posts you might like if you’re planning a trip to London include: 

33. Get in the festive spirit at Birmingham Christmas market.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside Germany and Austria. It takes place in the city centre from early November right through the Christmas holidays. Check out the market stalls as you sip on Glühwein and decide whether you’re going to indulge in a chocolate Crêpe or Bratwurst & Brezel. Make sure you look out for the singing moose as you join in with the Christmas carols!

The ultimate christmas markets roadtrip through Europe | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

34. Hop on a steam train.

Head back in time to the golden era of travel as you get on board a steam train. It’s a beautiful way to get from A to B and witness some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside as you travel. Some of the best steam train journeys in England are…

35. Get a camper van and do an England road trip!

This is something that I plan to do more and more this year now that I have finished my van conversion! England has so many places to visit and explore… why limit yourself to one or two?! So far, I’ve explored Cornwall, Devon and Suffolk in my van, and Cornwall in a vintage VW camper. Life on the road offers you the freedom to go where you want, when you want, and stay in each place as long as you want. The questions is… where first?!

#VanLife Part 1 - I BOUGHT MY DREAM VAN!

Which of these best things to do in England have you done?

What are your top things to do in England? Anything you’d add?

Love as always and happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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